on 16 March 2008
I bought this book as the previous volume in the New Naturalist series that dealt with the Lake District, by Pearsall and Pennington, had a tremendous influence on me when I read it as an A level student. It certainly influenced my choice of degree course and my choice of university, and gave me a first insight into what made the region the way it was. But time has moved on since it was published and I was interested to read this book to see how new understanding and new issues would add to the previous publication.
Perhaps then I didn't approach it with a sufficiently open mind, as I found myself comparing it to its predecessor and coming off worse. This isn't to say that it's not a worthwhile read - it is, albeit with caveats, and someone interested in the area who hasn't read the first publication will unquestionably get a lot from it. It also extends the area covered, including more on the northern part of the area and stretching east to the Pennines too.
My caveats are two: that this publication refers to its predecessor within the text too often as a point of further reference - the information should be in this book for the reader; and the writing style, full of references to published works, is academic - this makes it a good deal less accessible to the general reader.
As a supplement and companion volume to the first, it works. But even though it's been a long time since the first volume covering the Lake District was published in the New Naturalist series, I think it remains a better first port of call for the interested reader. An amalgam of that book with this, written in the accessible style of the first, would provide the definitive modern volume.